5 ways men can support women’s safety
The murder of Sarah Everard, is still a raw and painful memory as I write this. Rightfully, the subject of women’s safety and male behaviour is an incredibly touchy one. I’ve joined in a few discussions on social media and quickly seen how emotive people naturally are on this subject. I know it might be safer to keep my head below the parapet, but one woman in just such a group pointed out that it is men who need to sort the problem out. So keeping quiet is not really an option.
At the same time, I’m not going to be able to change the world in a blog. This blog is aimed directly at men only. I would like to suggest a few small shifts of thinking and attitude that, if every man were to make them, might help improve the situation.
Here then, are some minor things that us men can take heed of:
- Don’t take offense
There is a huge amount of anger out there at the attitudes and behaviour of many men. People are right to be angry, and when you are angry you tend to generalise. So it is ‘men’, not ‘some men’. If you are not the kind of man who shouts at women in the street, and you’re not a rapist, and you don’t put the onus on women to change their behaviour, then that is great. You don’t need to point it out, because if you demonstrate the right attitudes, the women you care about know this.
- But don’t be complacent
You’ve all heard the story of the fish that had never heard of water. Take a good hard look at yourself and check that you aren’t part of the problem all the same. If someone points something out to you that you do, don’t ‘poo poo’ it. If someone has that perception of you then there may well be some truth in it.
- Always be respectful
If you treat ‘everyone’ with respect, then you can have integrity, and integrity shows. Don’t treat people differently because of what gender they are, treat them all with the highest level of respect. I saw one person say they will ‘jolly-well keep opening doors for women’. My immediate thought was, what do you do when a man comes? Slam it in his face?
Sometimes your behaviour is going to be judged, whatever you do.
- Challenge others
When you see another man treat a woman with disrespect, whether to their face or behind closed doors, call him out on it, report it if necessary. If you don’t, then you deserve the criticism leveled against men in general (see 2 above).
- Model good behaviour
As parents, men need to model the kinds of behaviour we expect of ourselves to our children. We are battling a long, long history of sexist attitudes laid down over generations. We are still experiencing external influences that continue to support sexualising women and making inappropriate gender distinctions.
And it is not just as parents that we can do this modelling, but as colleagues, friends and employees.
There are probably practical things we could do too. We could choose to wear clothing at night that is less threatening maybe – less dark colours? Can we be more aware of our body language? We could avoid approaching strangers.
We can, in fact, choose do many of the things that women are sometimes told to do when there is a percieved threat.